The Time Is Now

Cassie and Rotnei Clarke

University of Arkansas signee Rotnei Clarke, averaging 41.5 points per game, can break the Oklahoma all-time scoring record with 34 points Friday night as he and his sister Cassie - who could end up a Lady Razorback - continue their quest to lead Verdigris' teams to state titles.

What seem unfathomable once could come to fruition tonight.

University of Arkansas signee Rotnei Clarke, averaging 41.5 points per game and with 3,606 points in his four-year career, needs just 34 points to become the all-time leading career scorer in Oklahoma high school history.

Clarke (6-1, 180) will take his shot at Ty Harman's mark of 3,639 when he leads No. 1 Verdigris (23-3) against No. 2 Adair (24-2) Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Class 3A Arena final at Skiatook's Dr. Gary Johnson Activity - which can seat up to 6,000.

"Rotnei has handled this things so unbelieveably," notes Conley Clarke, Rotnei's dad and an assistant coach at Oral Roberts University. "He really would like to get this behind it because it is all anyone talks about, but he would trade it easily for three more wins and a state title. That's what is most important to him and he feels like it is his fault they haven't won it yet."

Odds are the place will be packed in what will be the third straight time these two teams have played for the Area championship.

The winner gets a state tournament berth, the loser must win a third-place game on Saturday to get one.

"When he was sophomore, Rotnei had 45 and we won when Adair was number one and undefeated and we were number two and the place seated 3,200 and was soldout," Clarke noted. "They had to turn 1,000 people away.

"When he was a junior, we were number one and Adair No. 2 and Rotnei had 57 it was sold out as well.

"This year they have moved it to Skiatook to get in as many fans as possible," Clarke added. "It has 4,500 permanent seats and they can put another 1,500 on the floor."

That crowd, which can begin buying tickets as early at 1 p.m. at the Skiatook football field, will likely include plenty of Razorback fans. "We have had about a group of 30 to 40 Razorback fans who have been coming to our games and wearing Arkansas stuff," Clarke said. "They have been very supportive of him.

"It's like (UA head) Coach (John) Pelphrey said when he was over here last week – they can't wait to get him over there at Arkansas and he knows Rotnei will be so glad just to have one guy guarding him. We are really looking forward to him being over there, too."

Rotnei, who joins Pawnee star and Oklahoma State signee Keiton Page as players who could break the Ty Harman's mark this season, might not be the only Clarke competing at Skiatook Friday.

Csassie, his highly regarded junior sister that the Lady Razorbacks are interested in, will be playing at 1:30 on Friday.

"She has had a real good season," Clarke said. "She is averaging 23 points – which is third in the state – and around 10 rebounds. Arkansas is looking at her and she has made it clear that where she wants to end up just like Rotnei."

Not surprisingly, Cassie Clarke is also a big-time shooter.

"She can really shoot the ball and Arkansas tells us that it needs some shooters," Clarke said. "She needs to get stronger and get better going to her right, but if she gets open, it's going in."

Cassie Clarke had been fixated on a volleyball career in college, but has now switched to thinking basketball is for her.

"That's what she is saying now," Clarke said. "She had always been about volleyball – I think in part because she has always had to love in Rotnei's shadow when it came to basketball, but she is all about basketball now."

Clarke has raised his scoring average from 20 points as a ninth grader to 34.2 as a sophomore to 37.9 as a junior and now 41.5 in this his senior year.

"No one even thought anything about a scoring record until somebody started doing the projections and saying he could actually break it if he averaged a few more points his senior season," Clarke said. "It's unreal that's what has happened."

Rotnei has been inundated by autograph seekers and well wishers at his game.

"It really is something after a game and he has done his best to talk with everyone, but it is tough on him," Clarke said. "One of the things that I am proud is that this mother and three girls have driven 3 hours to see him play and he always goes over to greet them for supporting him. I think they are like 13, 11 and 10. That makes me as proud as anything."





Cassie and Rotnei Clarke





Rotnei and Conley Clarke

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